Tulips are here. So are forget-me-nots. Also...the sun stays up til eight o'clock.
This means SPRING!
Okay, so it is still raining cold, hard, ugly rain and venturing outside usually means misery, but it's coming. There are signs. I love the signs.
So today being a Saturday completely to myself (my family is out of town) with zero obligations to the outside world I decided to wake up at 7 o clock in the morning and be HAPPY and PRODUCTIVE. (See how those things are in caps? That means stuff just got real.) Do you know how much more time you have when you wake up at 7 instead of at ten? It's crazy...
So. What does HAPPY mean in my personal dictionary? It means making cupcakes. And cupcakes can kind of be productive, right? (I did three loads of laundry and cleaned all the bathrooms just to make sure I covered the PRODUCTIVE aspect of the morning. You know, just in case. I wanted there to be no doubts regarding the matter.)
Happy Productive Signs of Spring Cupcakes;
Mandarin Orange and Pistachio Almond Cupcakes
So that's a long name. I'm sorry, you'll have to deal with it because all those words are important for everyone to understand how awesome these cupcakes are.
Fluffy almond cake: check
Juicy bits of mandarin oranges: check
Lightly sweet almond buttercream and cute springtime topping of orange segments and pistachios: check
Happiness and productivity: check
Now, decorating these cuties proved a challenge. I started with green tinted frosting. Because pistachio cupcakes=green. Understandable.
But it didn't look quite right. So I added orange tinted frosting to the equation. Better....But then I tried frosting them with just the plain white un-tinted frosting. I liked the way those ones looked best.
What can I say? I like simplicity. And it seems classier that way. But of course, when you make these yourself (You will be making these, right? RIGHT? Ok, good.) you can decorate them however you please. You can even skip all the trial and error of frosting tinting since I got that out of the way for you.
Mandarin Orange and Pistachio Almond Cupcakes (Makes 12)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 c. buttermilk
2 cans mandarin oranges, with syrup
1/2 cup shelled and chopped pistachios
Preheat your oven to 350 F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Open the cans of mandarin oranges and measure 1/4 of the syrup in to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup of buttermilk to this syrup, set aside. Using mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla and almond extract. Beat in the dry ingredients and milk/syrup mixture in 3 additions to the batter. Chop orange segments roughly to measure 1/2 cup. Fold with pistachios into the batter.
Measure the batter into the muffin cups, filling 3/4 of the way full. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Let cool completely before frosting. Top with additional chopped pistachios and remaining mandarin orange segments.
Almond Buttercream Frosting:
1 lb powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 stick of softened butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup shortening
Whisk together sugar, vanilla, almond, and milk in stand mixer. Add butter one slice at a time, beating until incorporated. Add shortening and whip about 8 minutes until double.